About Val’s Garden

This garden began in 1984 as a blank canvas and my hope was to create an English style garden. The two majestic spruce trees at the west end of the sunken garden and the spruce hedge and lilacs along with the five tall spruce behind the fire pit are original to the garden. All other trees and plantings began in 1984 with the clearing of scrub bush and various automobiles and other such debris left over from years of active farm life. The little stone house, built in 1907, was gutted and brought into modern times. A garden room was added some years later.

There is no water source on this property and for more than 20 years I gardened without a watering supply. Now, water is pumped from a little lake through many metres of garden hose, to a sprinkler, which is moved around as needed. The lake was dug in 2010 by a big machine and fills each spring with melted snow.

With nearly 12 acres, there is enough space to encompass many gardens within the whole. These may be seen in two ways if taken in at a slow pace. Firstly, as whole, the visitor will see and appreciate the bones of the place as it were, as well as the design; one garden area leading onward to another, the spacing and variety of trees, the variation in heights and shapes as well as types of plantings. The second way of viewing is a closer one, with a focus on groupings or even individual plants. The viewer sees the perfection of the flame coloured cone flower next to the painted obelisk, the deep orange lilies against the crimson of the Adelaide Hoodless roses or the silver leafed artemisia mingled with the tall stems of fuchsia campanula…Morden Centennial roses interplanted with lavender flowering ornamental onions and so on. Without being too prescriptive…the combinations, sometimes deliberate, but often serendipitous, are endless.

If a gardener is lucky enough to have access to surrounding woodlands or farmland then vistas, which are integral to the English garden, may be taken advantage of. A small body of water in the dip of the landscape with grass rising up the other side and finally a view of the farmland beyond lets the eye roam and rest in the distance.

The sunken rose garden started life as the old farm garden. The earth that was removed to make the levels became the lawn south of the house.  In the sunken rose garden, the roses are hardy shrub, explorer and Morden varieties. In 2016, 34 overgrown, impossible to trim and light blocking spruce trees were felled and in their place is a ‘dogwood hedge border’ reminiscent of a show garden at the 2013 Chelsea Flower Show and the loggia garden at Broadheath House in Wales.

There is a delightful small round pond at the east end of the former wild flower garden which enchants with its fountain and resident goldfish. The bed around the pond links it to the two gardens beyond. One is a White Garden inspired by Vita Sackville-West’s white garden at Sissinghurst Castle and the other is a contemporary wild garden inspired by the Dutch garden designer, Piet Oudolf.

Gardens in Asia are richly symbolic and evocative. The “Japanese” garden is a calm and reflective counterpoint to the riotous busyness of the other gardens.

The circle garden of David Austin roses offers heavily scented and voluptuously petalled flowers.

The bright colours and exotic plantings of the hot garden are a nod to the Mediterranean with a grape arbor to provide shade.

Next to the hot garden is a circular herb garden and nearby are  veggies planted in a pottager style. Each segment anchored by a globe cedar.

The peony garden, (where, according to family of Kitty Edmundson, for whom the house was originally built, there was once a tennis court), blooms early with iris, followed by peonies at the end of June and finally lilies and day lilies until frost. There is a delicious lemon scented thyme path to walk on.

About one mile of paths has been cleared through the surrounding woods. These are fun for snowshoeing in winter and relaxing summer strolls.

We live in a generally inhospitable climate, but from May until September I make my garden sing. Working in the garden, I become of the garden and this is, for me, the greatest realization of a perfect moment. Any garden needs loving, constant and sometimes ruthless attention. That is my joy and it is my pleasure to share it with you.

Finally, say ‘hello’ to Dolly, a Maremma/Great Pyrenees cross. She is the garden guardian.

This garden has been featured in Gardening Life (cover story), Gardens West, twice in the Manitoba Gardener and graced the cover of the 2014 Prairie Garden Annual, (75th edition).